We have been working with the Victorian Government to ensure multicultural communities are getting the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe. We have been translating materials and working with community leaders to get materials where they are needed throughout the pandemic.
It’s about more than translations. It’s about localising materials so they resonate with communities. If you just translate the words of a message, you might get the idea across, but you’ll likely lose so much context that the point gets lost. That’s why localisation is so important. Localisation is about translating the meaning of a message, not just the words themselves.
For example, when writing a health campaign, you might refer to a “stabbing pain”, because it conveys an experience, and the seriousness, more evocatively than just saying “acute injury” or similar.
But if you literally translated those two words, “stabbing” and “pain”, you’d be inadvertently telling some audiences about an accident caused by a knife!
So localisation is what’s needed. Looking at the phrase “stabbing pain” holistically and replacing it with a different phrase that best gets the point across.
If you’re describing an action, or if you wander into metaphor, you’ll likely end up lost in translation.
And when you’re giving people the information they need to stay safe in a pandemic, the risk of signal loss is just too high to not control.
So how do you do it well? By keeping some fundamental principles of communication and community engagement in mind:
- Do things with communities, not for them, and
- Check your messages with the audience.
Our work is informed not only by a network of accredited translators, but our relationships with multicultural community leaders and influencers who live here in Victoria. Every product we create is not only translated but checked for cultural context and accuracy – all by people who understand the people we’re reaching.
It’s our connection to communities that makes it work.
So for the latest phase of the COVID-19 campaign, which is about making sure we all keep getting tested and stay vigilant so Victoria can “Stay Safe and Stay Open”, we wanted to truly include those who have made this possible.
We invited the people in our network to submit photos of themselves practicing COVIDSafe behaviours as they connected with family and community or went about their business, to make them the heroes of the campaign.
It’s been a mammoth effort. Co-ordinating individual photo commissions from more than 50 language groups is more complex than hiring actors for a single photo shoot, of course, but the results speak for themselves – a campaign for the community, by the community.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
For COVID-19 information in your language, visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au/translations
Need advice on including every audience? Contact us to find out more.